You trust your child’s pediatrician to diagnose and treat a wide variety of potential problems—ear infections, broken bones, allergies—but what issues that aren’t physical? The fact is, your pediatrician should also be your first resource if your child is having mental health issues. Whether it is trouble concentrating, anxiety, difficulty adjusting to a new home situation, or any number of other problems, your child’s doctor is a valuable source of help and information.
Pediatricians are Specialists
Although pediatricians serve as primary care physicians to children, they are also specialists. A pediatrician must complete not only medical school but a long residency and demonstrate competency in all aspects of children’s healthcare. This includes mental health.
Kids are not simply miniature versions of adults. Just as their bodies have unique needs, so do their minds. Pediatricians are trained and experienced in dealing with childhood and adolescent problems, and they know how to talk to kids.
Furthermore, pediatric doctors are well-versed with medications designed to treat psychiatric problems. They’ll know what is safe and appropriate for your child. Also, if a problem needs to be addressed by a child psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist, your child’s doctor will be able to make a referral.
Mental Health Problems Aren’t Limited to Adolescents
The idea of the rebellious teenager is a common cliché, and it’s true that the adolescent years can be especially difficult. However, mental health issues can affect children of any age.
Young children are impressionable and are easily affected by their environments. They are also very sensitive to themselves and others. Additionally, they’re not immune from pressure in school or problems with their classmates and friends.
The fact is that if your child, of any age, is showing signs of difficulty with social interaction, learning, depression, or anxiety, you should consult your Westminster pediatrician.
Signs to Watch Out For
There are a number of things that can alert you to a potential problem with your child. Reports from teachers, sudden changes in personality, and losing interest in favorite activities are all signs that should be brought to your pediatrician’s attention.
Also, children who have experienced a traumatic event such as a death in the family or appear to always be tired or lethargic should see a pediatrician. Other concerning signs include feelings of worthlessness or low self-esteem.
Finally, if children injure themselves intentionally or make statements about harming themselves or others, seek medical attention immediately.
Seeking Help Doesn’t Mean You’ve Failed
Mental illness and psychiatric issues are very common and are not always a result of the environment. In fact, there is very strong evidence that many mental problems are linked to genetics. Even children in happy, loving homes have troubles and go through difficult periods.
Of course, as a parent, you are your child’s primary support. But getting help from health professionals doesn’t mean you’ve failed in your role. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It indicates that you want the best for your child and are concerned about their health.